Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Alt-right goons vote Amy Schumer special down on Netflix

The comic’s latest standup special holds a fishy one-star rating on Netflix. What’s the point of online ratings?

Mon, Mar 20, 2017, 20:39


Further evidence of the unreliability of online voting for culture emerged with the news that, following various campaigns by Alt-right nuts on Reddit, The Leather Special, the latest standup video by Amy Schumer, has been depressed to a one-star rating on Netflix. This is most unusual for such a high-profile Netflix original. Schumer has a big following and many are in the key Netflix demographics. “Maybe the show is just awful,” you say. Well, I’ll be honest and say that it wasn’t much to my taste. But don’t heed that. Heed this. Iron Fist, a show already notorious for its poor reception, registers four and a half stars on the streaming service. That superhero series scores 37 percent on Metacritic, whereas The Leather Special knocks up a very decent 72 percent. Obviously these statistics are not scientifically watertight. But there is certainly a sense that something peculiar is going on here.

YouTube Preview Image

The good people at the comedy website Splitsider have looked deeper into this and — surprise, surprise! — have found a campaign by right-wing nuts against the video. Such intemperate souls don’t have much time for female comedy and they are particularly unhappy with Schumer. Not only has she spoken out against Trump, she is the second cousin once removed (I think have that right) to senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. Splitsider discovered campaign on the @TheDonaldReddit aimed at voting down The Leather Special. “To those that still have Netflix; Netflix just added a new Amy Schumer special, please go and 1 star that piece of shit,” one argued. “Amy ’1 Star’ Schumer has a new Netflix special. You know what to do,” another bellowed.

This is organised sexism on a depressing scale. It calls to mind the pathetic efforts to vote down Ghostbusters on IMDb last year. More recently, on that site, Raoul Peck’s I am Not Your Negro was voted down to under 4/10 before it had even opened commercially. Noting that the documentary on James Baldwin scored 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, we can fairly conclude that a degree of racism is at play here. In response to various abusive campaigns, IMDb eventually abolished its comments boards. Such voting campaigns will be harder to defeat.

Netflix is making its own changes. The company is bringing in a new system that will hang around a binary “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rather than a star rating. It’s not clear if this will have any effect on such campaigns as those mentioned above. The strategy would still be pretty straightforward. “Five stars feels very yesterday now,” Todd Yellin, Netflix vice president, said. “We’re spending many billions of dollars on the titles we’re producing and licensing, and with these big catalogs, that just adds a challenge.”

Whatever happens, young men who don’t like what they perceive to be “girls stuff” will continue to bias online ratings on virtually every sort of entertainment. Such people are still the most motivated to plonk themselves down and work their way through websites clicking lowered thumbs on Twilight films, Beyoncé albums Gilmore Girls boxed sets. These people are rubbish people (ahem Gamergate) and they should be ignored.

Comment on Screenwriter at the author’s Twitter account: @donaldclarke63